Cordless and DECT phones applications & products

by Crucible Multimedia

Cordless and DECT phones are fixed wireless devices. This is not a contradiction in terms, but highlights the key advantage of such devices - they combine some of the functionality of both fixed and mobile telephony by using radio technology to access the standard (fixed) telephone network. Fixed wireless devices include cordless telephones, combined DECT/GSM mobile phones and the humble pager, all of which interact with standard forms of telephony, voice and electronic messaging. Used in combination with one personal number and call-forwarding technologies fixed wireless can be a useful business tool.

With a cordless or DECT telephone system your business will have extra flexibility. If you work in a small office where there is an advantage in being free from a deskbound phone, or on a large site where there is a need for you and your staff to have freedom of movement whilst remaining in contact, by using cordless phones you will be able to keep in contact and give an instant response to enquiries. 

Cordless and DECT phone systems

A cordless telephone consists of a fixed radio base station attached to the public telephone network and a wireless handset, which communicates through the base station up to a range of 300-500m. This may be reduced in buildings or built-up areas to around 50m. Range can be extended by using one or more ‘repeaters’ or 'signal boosters' between the base station and the furthest required point or weak signal areas.

Systems may be analogue or digital, but digital systems based on DECT (Digital European Cordless Telecommunications) are becoming more widespread, as they generally offer better quality speech, longer talk time and a greater operating range. The handsets also tend to be smaller, lighter and more feature-rich than analogue models, and are more secure.

A DECT telephone is in effect a radio transceiver, similar to a mobile telephone. It operates from either a single base station for home and small office use, or on a network of several base stations for larger offices. A business network can be interfaced to a PBX, giving you the benefits of a private system combined with freedom of movement, without the need for a pager or mobile phone.

Features of DECT phone systems

DECT phone systems represent one stage in the evolution of a universal telephone instrument, which acts as a PBX extension in the office and becomes a mobile phone once out of range of its base station.

All DECT handsets have access to an incoming telephone line and can use the base station for one-to-one conversations or for paging. Once contacted a conversation can take place straight away, and there are none of the additional costs associated with using mobile phones. Handsets can communicate with each other (and conference and/or transfer calls) through the base station as internal extensions, but interaction with other fixed extensions (with the base station connected through a PBX) is more complex. Most DECT systems incorporate voicemail/answerphone as well as some PBX type functions, such as call logging and Least Cost Routing (LCR).

Combined DECT/GSM (mobile) handsets are a recently released technology. A call placed to one of these phones is first routed through the fixed wireless base station, but if it is not within range the call is then routed through a mobile GSM network. A simpler more established technology allows manually set-up call forwarding from one number to another, or publishing one personal number but manually diverting it to the current office or mobile location number. (This is different from "find me anywhere" telephone services, which route calls between different telephones with discrete numbers.)

Costs of DECT phone systems  

A digital base station with one incoming standard analogue line will support up to six digital extension handsets. With one handset the cost is around GBP80-150 - additional handsets priced at around GBP35-85. Base stations supporting two lines and ISDN lines are available at higher cost.

A DECT network to interface with a PBX is considerably more expensive; handsets alone average GBP200-GBP300, and the cost of a 15 base station network with 50 handsets is likely to be in the region of GBP30,000. In addition, a radio interface card must be fitted to the PBX.

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Reviewed January 2011

last updated : 21/01/2011

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